One of America’s most beloved single-action handguns, the original Colt 1911A1, has mixed reception amongst the men who had to wield it in World War II. It was a standard issue sidearm given to non-commissioned officers and officers in the ranks of both the United States Army and Marine Corps. But there are some from that generation that complained it wasn’t a very accurate sidearm.
That doesn’t jive with our present day usage of the 1911 variant.
Thankfully, Vicker’s Tactical got their hands on an original 1945-era Colt 1911 to test out whether or not the stock handgun held up against a custom built 1911.
Dave Royer got to wield an original Colt 1911 at a range test, loaded with WWII-era .45 ACP. The 1911 is a single-action semi-automatic handgun that is renowned for being an excellent combat pistol. But, one of the things Dave discovered is that the sights on the pistol are very streamlined. This is great for having a snag-free pull from a holster but it makes lining up shots a bit more difficult.
His shot groupings were consistent but he did note the trigger was on the stiffer side and the rear sights were not very friendly.
In comparison to his buddy’s shot grouping with a custom built 1911, it’s definitely noticeable. However, the big historical detail worthy of note is that these sidearms were mass produced and the men who used them were often given very little training in their use prior to being sent off to theater.
This could result in a lot of soldiers and Marines failing to hit their targets in an actual combat situation and incorrectly attributing those misses to the handgun versus operator error.
The World War II era was also very different from present day in terms of the level of basic firearms education the average person had prior to entering service. Whereas now, it’s relatively common to have a decent understanding of the basics of marksmanship and firearm safety, plenty of men entering service in World War II may have had no or incorrect training in the use of handguns. Couple this with very basic marksmanship training prior to being sent overseas and you have all the conditions to get sporadic results with the original Colt 1911.
Modern day 1911s can come from multiple manufacturers. Everything from a $450 Rock Island Arms 1911 to a $4,000 Vicker’s Elite Tactical 1911 from Wilson Combat is reliable. When you get into more expensive 1911s, the basic aesthetics and handling change dramatically. A match grade 1911 is considered one of the best combat handguns in existence.
So, with modern re-tooling and some adjustment, a 1945-era 1911 handgun can be a very versatile, effective handgun for home defense, everyday concealed carry or a great day at the range.
Does the 1945-era Colt 1911 deserve a bad wrap? We don’t think so. But if you’ve had a chance to fire one, tell us about your experience in the comment section below.